In terms of book output, best-selling novelist Steven Pressfield has produced a dozen. This man had a career that lasted for a whole 27 years. He has authored fiction, nonfiction, scripts, and advertisements during this period. In 1995, he debuted with The Legend of Bagger. Five years later, a film starring Will Smith and Matt Damon was released under the same name to capitalize on its popularity.
Do the Work is the follow-up book by Steven Pressfield to Konstens krig, in which he provides readers with practical ideas and techniques to overcome resistance, the driving force behind procrastination.
Do the Work is a short book (only 100 pages) that sets out the fundamentals of producing creative work. Its primary emphasis is on the craft of writing, but its advice applies to any creative endeavor. It walks the reader through a project step by step, laying out the many obstacles you may face and providing solutions to those problems.
The book is indeed short, but it’s also true that it’s excellent. And many people do recommend it as a worthwhile read.
Both Turning Pro och Konstens krig by Steven Pressfield are excellent reads since they analyze the differences in approach to adversity between professionals and amateurs. Pressfield emphasizes the need to take the initiative to overcome obstacles in Do the Work.
Here is a summary of the book’s key takeaways.
StoryShot #1: Stop Thinking And Begin Working
The seed of inspiration for your next creative endeavor has been planted or germinating for some time. But it would help if you had more time to consider it, conduct a thorough study, analyze the benefits and drawbacks, and get into it headfirst. To put it another way, you aren’t quite there yet.
Overthinking is the number one reason why people never get their ideas, businesses, or experiences off the ground. Numerous individuals regularly engage in this behavior and should feel bad about it.
You often constantly search for excuses to avoid doing what has to be done. As Steven put it, you can’t go anywhere until you take action. “We can always edit and reconsider after we’ve acted.”
You can’t sit around and wait for the solution to drop out of the sky in front of you; instead, you must take action so that you may adjust your route after you’ve begun your trip. You can get by with a less than tidy initial step as long as you keep modifying it as you go.
Want to spend the next twenty minutes starting a massive painting? Take the gesso and start applying it as groundwork. Ready to start a whole new art journal? Get a notebook or a magazine and start doodling or cutting out interesting pictures. Prepare some clay. It’s time to get out the oil paints or the fabric scraps. Get your pencils and paper and draw whatever is in front of you. Make a mess already. The rest is information you’ll pick up as you go.
The time to start is before you feel completely prepared. If you want to follow Steven’s suggestion, you should do three things: act, reflect, act, and reflect.
StoryShot #2: The More Dedication You Put Into An Important Project, The More Resistance You Will Encounter
Is it any surprise that most individuals spend their days doing jobs they despise rather than the work they want to do?
There is a reason why so few individuals are happy with their jobs. Because most of us are more reluctant to engage in activities that call for our entire ability and enthusiasm, this is why.
That’s why many of us choose jobs we wouldn’t necessarily like. We don’t feel as much pressure or worry about failing in our jobs because they aren’t all that important to us. Working on something we’re enthusiastic about usually requires more of us in terms of our time, effort, skills, and aptitudes.
While it’s simple to take a paycheck and go from a meaningless career, it’s not so simple to abandon the work that matters to you.
StoryShot #3: You’re Not The Only One Experiencing Resistance
You are not to blame. You can’t merely blame your lack of drive, enthusiasm, or motivation on these issues. There is nothing innately wrong with you if you have a dozen or more unfinished projects laying around your home or are a master procrastinator.
Though resistance strikes us where it hurts most emotionally, it functions in an impersonal, natural way. In a nutshell, you are not nearly as broken as you feel you are.
Everyone is feeling its effects. Think about all the successful individuals you know. Who is your favorite creative person who makes it seem so easy? Yes. I think you’re correct. All of them are encountering pushback as well.
Relax and give yourself a break. You haven’t painted in who knows how long, but not because you’re incapable of doing so; rather, you’ve avoided it due to the inevitable presence of opposition.
StoryShot #4: Develop A Research Diet
Nothing hits closer to home than the feeling of having to write, produce a video, or give a presentation, but getting halfway through and realizing that you haven’t accomplished a thing since you’ve spent so much time reading and viewing content relating to your subject.
You believe that you are productive simply because you have read several books and watched numerous videos and articles on the subject at hand, but the deadline for your submission is rapidly approaching, and you have yet to complete even the first chapter, first slide, or even 30% of the video.
If you can identify with this, you should start including a research diet in your projects.
Keeping to a research diet means reducing non-work-related media consumption like movies, interviews, books, and articles.
Instead of devoting all of your time to research, you should get started on your tasks to identify the issues and confusions that need to be resolved to make meaningful progress with the resources you are using.
StoryShot #5: Act Stupid And Begin Working On Your First Draft Immediately
Steven claims that the ego is the root of all rational thought, making the rational mind the natural opponent of original thought. So, listen up: put an end to all this introspection. So then, what should we do? Act. Put your best foot forward. Launch your imagination. Proceed with the task at hand.
Write down your initial draft, base layers, mock-up, basic shape, and the foundation of your diary pages as soon as possible. Avoid overanalyzing anything. Your internal critic has no place in this.
Steven says, “act, reflect,” and that’s when you should do both. Take action, then think about it. You can’t think and do both at the same time. For the time being, you must assume the role of the crazy and set him free. Put out your all and labor like a maniac. Put down on paper or canvas anything that comes into your head, no matter how insane, stupid, questionable, or flawed. You will get an opportunity to clean it up afterward.
Ego causes you to give in to opposition most of the time. You hesitate to act on your huge ideas for fear of what others may think. If you have a large, original ambition, most people will assume you can’t make it happen and will be disappointed in you when you inevitably fail. Instead of recognizing your efforts, you obsess about the perspectives of others.
Putting aside your pride and working in solitude are necessary initial steps toward realizing a personal idea, vision, or creative endeavor.
StoryShot #6: Always Expect That You Will Fail
Pursuing excellence and consistent practice guarantees some level of disappointment along the way. When you put yourself out there in this way, the actual world might judge you harshly if you are unsuccessful. Furthermore, you open yourself up to criticism that isn’t necessarily constructive.
Even if you undertake employment you despise, you will still experience setbacks; however, they will be less affected. But if what you do counts, it hurts much more to take setbacks in stride when you put your heart and soul into your work.
There will be setbacks on the road to success in whatever endeavor you undertake. As painful as it may be, setbacks are essential to personal development, resilience, and gaining the right perspective.
If you don’t experience setbacks in the beginning, you won’t be able to handle the difficulties you’ll confront later on. That’s why it’s important to see setbacks as stepping stones on the road to success.
If you’re human, you undoubtedly fear failing. On the other hand, if you want to be taken seriously as a working professional, you have to show up for work every day. It also implies that you are always exploring new approaches in your pursuit of excellence.
StoryShot #7: Resistance May Last For A Long Time, But It Will Become Easier
You’ll encounter challenges even with the breeze at your back. You will feel like giving up. Resistance may regroup and launch another attack.
You’ll be in the middle of a project when it hits you: it’s too late to stop, and it’s too soon to see the conclusion.
You can’t win against adversity if you don’t give it you’re all. You can’t succeed in a field if you work on it part-time. It would help if you were dedicated to working full-time to achieve your goals. It would help if you had a strong commitment to succeed at the highest levels of your chosen career.
It becomes apparent when you prepare your artwork for an approaching show. You’ll feel like erasing the Instagram post of your final artwork and going back into hiding the second you see it.
It’s frustrating to face reality, but there will always be resistance. Everything you do, every artwork you do, every vacation you take. Whatever your feelings about your old partner, they are always there for you. And once we realize we can triumph over it, it loses some of its stings.
It’s safe to claim that your attitude to writing and generating art will shift for the better once you recognize resistance and name it for what it is. You are far more likely to recognize your excuses for what they are when you have to come up with them.
When you feel inspired to create anything, whether it be a new piece of art or just the need to be creative, you don’t procrastinate as much as you would otherwise.
StoryShot #8: Assistance Is The Opposite Of Resistance
It may seem like the resistance is plotting against you at every turn. Thankfully, some forces share your desire to see you succeed.
It would help if you made it part of your practice to express gratitude to your inspirations before beginning work each day. Doing so is analogous to calling upon the Muses for assistance in maintaining concentration and motivation. Don’t expect miraculous results from a casual daily practice or a few affirmations. There is no substitute for effort and commitment. These should help you become more aware of and connected to the beneficial factors beyond your control that may assist you in overcoming the opposition.
The fight against resistance will go on forever. However, resistance may be mitigated or overcome with the right kind of support. Helping entails making an effort to do tasks regularly.
Even if you don’t feel particularly creative or inspired daily, if you want to produce quality work, you have to put in the time, energy, and resources it takes to get it done. Resistance is not deterring the provision of assistance.
Realize that the enthusiasm, excitement, and knowledge you acquire from completing the project, startup, or record are much more valuable than the fear holding you back.
StoryShot #9: Think Big And Stop Acting Small
Steven adds that if you want to do great things, you can’t settle for mediocrity in your job. Instead of bunting for a hit or hitting a line drive for a single, you could try swinging for the fences and seeing if you can get a strikeout.
Steven elaborates on the idea that people should begin to act from a position of strength. Turning it down is always an option. You’ll never hit a fastball into the upper deck if you don’t aim for the seats immediately.
Even if you don’t know much about baseball, you can still get the gist of this comparison. Put aside your doubts, worries, and any restrictions you may think you have. Put your best foot forward, imagine the impossible, and make this piece of art the one that defines you.
StoryShot #10: Ship Your Work Without Overthinking
Every task or endeavor must eventually come to a close. Shipping or exporting your albums, book, or business is the last thing you should do. It’s all for nothing if you don’t get it out the door. Most of us are too chicken to release our work for fear of criticism.
What if there are major problems with my book? However, what if no one likes my suggestions? If this company does not sell, what are your plans? So, if you don’t ship, you won’t know.
There is no space for outcomes and enhancements if you don’t ship. By not shipping, you are putting your pride above your art and hard work. Whatever the results, you must release it and then go on to celebrate your accomplishment.
Final Review And Summary of Do The Work
Do the Work’s overarching goal is to assist creative types in overcoming their natural tendencies toward procrastination, inertia, and interruption. Resistance is the cunning internal foe that undermines every person’s ability to achieve their goals. These negative emotions and behaviors can be traced back to one source: resistance.
Pressfield advocates stupidity in his book Do the Work. To be ignorant is to be happy. It is often the case that tremendous achievements have been made when the individuals involved have no concept of how difficult the challenges they are facing are.
Takeaways from this section as a whole are:
- Stop worrying and start doing.
- You may expect more opposition when you put more time and effort into a significant project.
- It’s not only you who’s encountering difficulties.
- Make a research diet plan.
- Act stupid and start cranking out your first draft right this second.
- Assume that every attempt at success will fail.
- It may be difficult initially, but the resistance will eventually fade.
- The inverse of resistance is assistance.
- Stop playing little and start dreaming big.
- Send out your work without a second hesitation.
Criticism And Rating
If you’re an artist or businessperson who’s ever hit a creative wall while pursuing your goals, you must read Do the Work. Pressfield’s creative process and those of many other creative minds throughout history serve as illustrative material for the ideas presented here.
Many real-life scenarios are provided in Do the Work to illustrate how to identify resistance and overcome it.
Overall, this is a fantastic book. The book is undeniably captivating and deserving of a 4.5/5 rating.